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Wednesday Whinge: In defence of Nick Atkin

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Wednesday Whinge: In defence of Nick Atkin

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Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing

Trust opens doors to the public Trust opens doors to the public

I get really upset when others blast Nick Atkin. That’s my job.

The chief executive of Halton Housing Trust, one of the very few people in the world who admits to being a Doncaster Rovers supporter, has received a public blasting for giving 250 residents some tablets.

Not the medical type but those clever computer devices so that residents can access all Halton’s services via dinky little apps and clever whatnots which I will never understand. The apparent ‘catch’ is that these residents won’t be allowed to use all the non-digital stuff, and that includes making simple phone calls.

This triggered some praise but an avalanche of condemnation which, in normal circumstances, I’d strongly welcome.

Critics see the tablet move as the thin end of the wedge, the road to digi-revolution which will leave millions behind as a money-grabbing housing sector realises so much more can be fleeced out of tenants.

On most things I’m a dinosaur in today’s housing sector: I would freeze any salary over 50k for the next five years so that people do it for the love of the job, rather than the money. I would also freeze all housing association rents for five years and I’d deny all emergency accommodation to any Arsenal supporters.

But the Atkin-bashing has gone too far.

He strikes me as a guy who is genuinely interested in testing out the sector’s future while being honest enough to admit it will help collect rent payments. Most importantly of all, the 250 tablets are not being imposed on the recipients but theirs by choice. If the scheme is extended, a fallback phone service would surely be available for the many simple non-digital folk out there, including myself.

Insults can hurt and even I try not to mock people just for the fun of it. I almost made someone cry by calling a theatrical group called HAMS “the musical wing of HAMAS” and, whilst tremendously witty, it wasn’t nice.

The current row comes down to what we think Atkin’s intentions really are.

Is he a greedy chief executive trying to save a quick buck and force residents into something they don’t want? Having interviewed him several times, I honestly don’t get that impression. Quite the opposite and I really hate writing that.

So I suggest we see what actually happens before we all condemn him. For my chance to bash Atkin even more, I really hope it fails miserably. But you never know.

p.w. (post whinge)

Don’t write in, I know it’s Thursday. The bank holiday has messed up my internal clock. That's why I wished you all a happy Monday on Tuesday. Will get better next week.

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